* WCIA’s Mark Maxwell last month…
A recent report published by the conservative think tank Illinois Policy Institute skewered local school districts for “administrative bloat” and claimed they “waste millions” in taxpayer money on “unnecessary layers of administration.”
However, according to school administrators who submit the expenses, and the State Board of Education that transmits the data to the National Center for Education Statistics, the report is based on misleading data and paints an inaccurate contrast between Illinois and neighboring states.
“Our per-student spending on education is a few thousand dollars higher than the national average, between two and five thousand dollars higher than neighboring states,” Adam Schuster, the Illinois Policy Institute’s Budget and Tax Research Director, said Friday in an interview with WCIA. […]
Dr. Brent Clark, the Executive Director of the Illinois Association of School Administrators, said the overall dollar amount cited by the think tank could be up to 30 percent too high, because unlike other states, Illinois includes risk management expenses in the category of “general administrative costs.”
* WCIA’s Mark Maxwell last week…
During Wednesday’s hearing, [State Board of Education] officials proposed a rule change to allow school districts more flexibility in how they code or count their expenses so they can accurately distinguish risk management or liability costs and keep them separate from the administrative expense column. […]
“We took a look at that [Illinois Policy Institute] report and those numbers, and it turns out that Illinois is not reporting data that is comparable to other states,” Mathews confirmed on Wednesday.
“Illinois uses an accounting protocol that we implemented in 2009 that has school districts report anything related to risk management or liability — it’s called the tort fund — into a single line item,” she explained. “That is part of the administrative bucket of costs. The rule that we’re proposing today would help bring us in line and our reporting here in Illinois in line with other states, and that would allow school districts to report different expenses that are related to that category into different lines.”
Mathews did not predict whether or not the total administrative spending would drop to similar totals as nearby states, but said “the accounting would be on par,” under a new rule change, which could take up to six months or longer to implement.
“But this will fix and bring us, make our data comparable to other states,” she said.